Development for this and other aspects of the $72 million project is largely infrastructure as SRQ works toward early-2025 completion of the new boarding facility, later for some of the smaller projects. When construction does begin in earnest in the second quarter of 2023, it will still not be discernible to the untrained eye.
“That is when we go vertical but vertical down, not vertical up,” Beck said.
Site enabling and utilities projects, beginning the fourth quarter of 2022, include expansion of the apron to accommodate the footprint of the new gate area. But there is more to the project, which will be paid for by airport capital funds. Included in the scope of work are escalator replacements at the terminal, HVAC replacement, electrical upgrades and bump-outs in Concourse B that will accommodate retail and/or restaurant space.
The ground-boarding facility is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2025, but authority board members asked SRQ President and CEO Rick Piccolo if an earlier completion date — ideally by October 2024 — could be incentivized. That would be in time to take advantage of the beginning of the busy travel season and perhaps generate additional revenues.
Airlines, however, must be notified of the additional gate capacity well in advance in order to develop their flight schedules if expansion is in their plans. In that event, a date certain must be, well, certain.
“We'd have to be pretty certain that we can meet that schedule because airlines are going to have to commit six months ahead of time to any expanded service,” Piccolo said.
How much additional revenue SRQ might expect to gain from an earlier completion, he added, is guesswork.
“It's difficult to predict, because you have to predict how many more flights they would add and then factor in how much each passenger spends, and then factor into your agreement that you share in that revenue stream with the airlines as it relates to the rates and charges,” Piccolo said. “It would be difficult to put a solid number to it, because you can't predict how much more traffic.”
Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.